How Did Rolls-Royce Just Have Its Best Year Ever Again?

The auto industry had a dismal 2022 while the British marque popped Champagne

A Rolls-Royce Ghost that's part of the automaker's Pebble Beach Collection, zoomed in on the Spirit of Ecstasy, the brand's mascot
Rolls-Royce delivered 6,021 vehicles in 2022, the most in its 118-year history.
Rolls-Royce Motor Cars

Most automakers had a depressing year in 2022, with the overall sales picture in the U.S. the worst it’s been since 2011. You know it’s bad when the highlight is General Motors eking out a 2.5% increase. Even Tesla, which achieved a record number of global deliveries along with 40% growth compared to 2021, ended the year on a sour note because that massive growth wasn’t as massive as analysts hoped. Poor Elon.

If you’re looking for some scrap of good news in the automotive sector that’s actually worth a Champagne toast, then look to the company building cars with Champagne coolers. After a blockbuster year in 2021, Rolls-Royce has once again achieved record-breaking sales in 2022. The British marque delivered 6,021 vehicles last year, the most ever in the luxury carmaker’s 118-year history, and a significant 8% increase from the year before. 

“These results confirm Rolls-Royce Motor Cars as a great British success story,” Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars CEO, said in a press release. “Our business is built on extremely strong foundations, and we have secured advance orders stretching far into 2023. And while we are not immune to global challenges and economic headwinds, thanks to our balanced worldwide sales strategy, we are cautiously optimistic that 2023 will be a strong year for Rolls-Royce.”

Contrary to the comment from Müller-Ötvös, it does appear that Rolls-Royce has been mostly immune to global challenges. Yes, they were initially stymied by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as all businesses were, but they came roaring back with a vengeance in 2021 and 2022; larger volume manufacturers were hindered by supply-chain issues, and then by deflated consumer buying power courtesy of inflation, but due to Rolls-Royce’s limited output (what the automaker calls its “innate exclusivity and rarity”) they’ve been able to produce a record number of vehicles from their facilities in Goodwood in England, and due to their extremely wealthy clientele who are virtually immune from the financial troubles experienced by the rest of humanity, they’ve had no problem enticing new customers. 

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However, to put Rolls-Royce’s success in such simplified terms would be a mistake. The company’s careful decisions about expansion, new models and image have all contributed to its continued success.

While the U.S. made up the largest market for the company again in 2022, Rolls-Royce is hyper-focused on bolstering other markets around the world for future success. For example, last year they opened “an invitation-only Private Office in Dubai, the first outside Goodwood,” as the most Bespoke commissions (their custom division, which includes coachbuilt cars) come from the Middle East. (The brand aims to open more Private Offices in the future.) Additionally, the automaker has its eyes set on Korea, which “has shown significant growth over the last two years, with the potential to become Rolls-Royce’s leading market in the region in the near future.” And then there’s the continued success of the Cullinan, the sales leader in the brand’s stable, which shows that introducing an SUV to the lineup in 2018 was a prescient move. 

As for its image, the company halted sales in Russia last year after the country invaded Ukraine; and despite losing out on an estimated 250-300 sales from the region, the marque was able to still achieve its record results. Additionally, they’re conscious of the shift to electrification and a new focus on sustainability in the automotive sector; last year, Rolls-Royce officially revealed its first EV, the Spectre, which is set to begin deliveries in the fourth quarter of 2023, and lead to the marque building only fully-electric cars by 2030.

If that shift to electrification sounds like a potential roadblock to Rolls-Royce’s growth, remember that the U.K. is set to ban the sale of new fossil fuel cars in 2030. Also worth considering: according to the automaker, preorders for the Spectre have “exceeded the company’s most ambitious expectations.” Whether we’re facing a potential recession or not, get ready for the automaker of the one-percent to have another gangbusters year in 2023.

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